Celebrating 50 Years of ACS Membership: Paul N. Noble

Highlights of a Career in Chemistry

Paul N. Noble, ACS member since 1968

Brief Chronology:

B. A. in chemistry, Rice University, 1964

       Ph. D. in physical chemistry, University of California (Berkeley), 1968

Thesis title: “Intramolecular Potential Functions from Vibrational Analysis and ab initio Calculation”

       NSF faculty associate, University of Texas (Austin), 1968-1970

       Member of CSUS Chemistry Department, 1970-2006

Assistant Professor 1970-74

              Associate Professor 1974-80

              Department Chair 1976-79

              Professor of Chemistry 1980-2006 (Retired in 2006.)

       Other activities while at CSUS:

              Visiting Professor, University of Reading (England) 1981-82

              Associate Dean (budget and planning), School of Arts and Sciences 1994-96

              Associate Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics 1996-2002

              Associate VP of Academic Affairs (budget and planning) 2002-06


In my early career I taught courses in general and physical chemistry (upper division and graduate) and supervised a number of undergraduate and graduate research projects in the area of my Ph. D. thesis—low temperature spectroscopy.  While on sabbatical in 1981-82 I worked in Robin Walsh’s lab at the University of Reading.  In addition to publishing several refereed papers, I learned a new research area—gas phase kinetics.  Most of the research projects I supervised for the next few years were in this area.  In the early 1990s I undertook a collaborative research project with Sue Kim, an organic chemist at CSUS, to develop energetic binders for solid rocket propellants.  This work evolved into other applications of polymer chemistry, including binders for polymer concrete composites.

In the late 1990s my interests turned more towards academic administration.  At the time most of the academic departments in the Univesity were grouped together in a large School of Arts and Sciences.  I became one of three associate deans, with my position focused on the areas of budget and planning.  After A&S was reorganized into three colleges, I was selected to be the associate dean of the new College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.  One of the most interesting activities during this period was to visit several university campuses in the state to see what kinds of features they had incorporated into their recently constructed science buildings.  Seeking a broader scale, I was appointed to the position of Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs/Budget and Planning.  My particular areas of interest were to ensure that there was adequate funding for laboratory-intensive disciplines and to develop tools to study and improve student graduation and retention rates.

Since retiring in fall of 2006, I have maintained some scholarly activity, including a joint research project with another retired CSUS chemist to correlate the composition of gases generated from the decomposition of transformer oil caused by an electrical fault with the severity of the fault.  I also wrote a book with a retired administrative colleague on the pitfalls of entering academic administration.  My non-academic interests have mainly been focused on neighborhood involvement; currently I am president of our local neighborhood association.  With my wife, Lillie, I have also done some travelling, both around the US and abroad.  All in all, I think I’ve had an interesting and reasonably varied career.  I would like to thank the Sacramento Section of the ACS for their recognition of my 50-year membership.

Author: ACS Sacramento Section

The Sacramento area has over 900 members of the American Chemical Society in all areas of chemistry.

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